Skilling up: who should learn what and where

A Swinburne U survey finds people need digital skills to stay employable. edX says the same

A  report based on the Swinburne survey by the university’s Sean Gallagher, finds Australian workers know that tech change is coming and are willing “to prepare now for the approaching future but lack the confidence to do so. An edX  survey similarly states respondents report they are lacking in data and business skills.

The question is how people will pick up the new knowledge they need.

No prizes for guessing what edX thinks.

But Dr Gallagher, from the university’s Centre for the New Workforce, has more policy-focused ideas for up-skilling the workforce, suggesting government, education providers and industry must combine to create, “learning partnerships,” that, “focus on developing learning workers, integrating learning into work, and reimagining accreditation.”

“We need to lift workers into the digital economy by providing basic digital competency. The most immediate challenge is to equip the workforce with the skills to work with digital technologies. All workers must have access to this training, relevant to the emerging needs of their organisation, industry or sector,” he proposes.

As to who will deliver it, edX reports survey respondents split, with 41% thinking it is up to them, 33% saying it’s down to employers,16% saying higher education providers should and 9% looking to government.

In contrast, Australians are more self-reliant. Dr Gallagher found 59 per cent think they are personally responsible for preparing themselves for the future of work, 15 per cent think it is a job either for the education system or “the government” and just 11 per cent looking to their employer.

Which rather makes his point about partnerships. Dr Gallagher reports, Australians, “want their learning to be informed by specialists with a slight preference for industry experts over academic experts. Australian workers might prefer online providers as a resource, but it is not their preferred learning format. To prepare to work with digital technologies, Australians workers clearly signal that ‘learning on the job’ is overwhelmingly preferred over all other formats.”



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